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Oakland County Commission District 5

Choose one candidate. Oakland County commissioners serve two-year terms and receive an annual salary of $33,717.

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  • Candidate picture

    Tom J. Berman
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Julia A. Pulver
    (Dem)

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Biographical Information

What do you think county’s three most pressing problems are, and where would you start to solve them?

Do you support the proposed millage to fund a regional transit system? Why or why not?

What, in your view, should be the county and the region’s transportation priorities?

What is your position on outfitting the county sheriff’s department with body cameras?

Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana?

Has the county taken appropriate steps to prevent gun violence?

With reports showing Michigan behind on education, what role if any do you see the county taking to improve education?

What should Oakland County do to fix its aging infrastructure?

What is the county’s role in assisting financially struggling cities?

Which county-provided services need the most improvement, and what suggestions can you offer for making them better?

What are the county's biggest budgetary concerns, and how would you address them?

Where do you stand on settling refugees in Michigan, and Oakland County in particular?

What will you do to improve the lives of low-income residents in Oakland County?

What would you do to improve the county’s workforce development efforts?

Do you support and will you appear at campaign events with your party’s presidential nominee?

Have you ever filed for personal bankruptcy? If so, explain.

Have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor? If so, explain.

City of residence Keego Harbor
Age 37
Family Wife: Jennifer Berman (11 years) Daughters: Alexis (8) & Olivia (6)
Education High School Diploma Magna Cum Laude, Detroit Country Day School Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Criminal Justice, Michigan State University Juris Doctor (J.D.), University of Detroit Mercy School of Law
Vehicles owned 2015 Jeep Cherokee 2015 Lexus GS 350
Professional Experience Principal Attorney - Berman Law, PLLC General Counsel & Parking Guru - Bedrock Detroit Chief Administrative Officer & General Counsel - Reverie
Political Experience Keego Harbor City Council
Race/ethnicity White
Campaign Website http://tomberman.com
Oakland County has been very fortunate to have a trailblazing executive like L. Brooks Patterson leading us for as long as he has, and therefore, Oakland County finds itself in great shape but that may not always be the case. Therefore, I believe that there is nothing more vital than maintaining Oakland County’s AAA bond rating and sustaining the passage of multi-year balanced budgets through responsible, fiscally conservative principles. I will keep taxes low, cut wasteful spending, help negotiate the best deals and will spearhead a transparent, fair and consistent vendor bidding process. In addition, I will vigorously pursue economic development opportunities.
My initial take is that I'm not sure how much the proposed RTA plan is going to benefit the constitutes in my District. I'm concerned that they will not fully get the benefit of their tax dollars. At this point, I'm not sure I can or will be in favor of a tax that may not offer my constitutes much, but I need to dive deeper in order to make an informed decision on whether or not I would support the millage. Lastly, I do believe that a well-thought out, and appropriately funded, mass public transportation system that connected all of Metro-Detroit together would strengthen not only our region, but entire state.
Our top transportation priority should be identifying the best and most cost effective option to connect our workforce to jobs, our senior citizens to independence, and provide a solution that will help us retain our best and brightest - millennials or otherwise - as well as attract those types to Oakland County. Oakland County is a fantastic place to live, work and play.
There are several well cited pros and cons associated to outfitting law enforcement professionals with body cameras. Some of the pros include i) accountability; ii) improved behavior; and iii) reduction of complaints. Some of the cons include i) upfront costs; ii) privacy concerns; and iii) data storage. There are certainly valid points from both sides. As a Commissioner, I will make an informed decision after reviewing all of the facts and associated costs.
I've never smoked marijuana nor do I support the use of any illegal drugs. However, legalization of recreational marijuana in other states has recently proven to provide several benefits to those jurisdictions the pros appear to be outweighing the cons. For example, Colorado has seen a significant decrease in drug related crimes as well as traffic fatalities. They have also seen a major increase in tax revenue and employment due to the introduction of this new industry. I do not have a strong opinion one way or the other, but I strongly believe that if recreational marijuana is ultimately legalized, we need to ensure that it stays out of the hands of our youth and schools.
I do believe that Oakland County has taken appropriate steps to help prevent gun violence. Oakland County has developed and implemented several initiatives, including promoting Gun Safety Awareness Day and Lock-It-Up Oakland. This past June 7, 2016, Oakland County helped educate around the importance of gun safety and provided free gun locks. Despite these efforts, there is always more that we can do, and because I am a NRA Certified Firearms Instructor, I believe that I can further assist to identify, create and implement new and improved programs to prevent gun violence and promote gun safety and awareness.
I am a strong supporter of education. There is nothing more important than educating our children which will provide them with an opportunity to succeed. My wife is an educator so I think that I understand it better than most outside of the teaching field. That said, the local level of control is the heart of the education system. School districts are governed by school boards and parent organizations are essential components to education at the local level. I believe that the county can get further involved as well, and as a Commissioner, I will vigorously support our school districts and children's education in any and every way that I can.
We need to fix our roads! It is clear that Michigan's top priorities have not included the roads. Michigan ranks close to the bottom for road maintenance and construction funding. We need to put pressure on the State because the principal source of funding for the Road Commission is the Michigan Transportation Fund which is primarily made up of the state fuel tax and license plate fees. Because cars are becoming more fuel efficient, we're not filling up as often, and now we have even less dollars. Michigan needs to find a solution, but until then, Oakland County has an obligation to fund the county roads and I will find money to fix our roads and negotiate the best deals to make it happen.
I believe that financially struggling cities typically look to the State for emergency management services, and although I don't think there is a county obligation to aid, it probably does make more sense for a financially struggling city to enter into an Interlocal Agreement for Emergency Management Services with the county as opposed to the State. The purpose of such an agreement is to provide an economical mechanism to allow the county to help protect the peace, health and safety of the struggling city. In an instance like this, the county is much closer to the city and likely already provides certain other services that it can effectively leverage to better assist the struggling city.
Oakland County provides so many great services and programs including, but not limited to, family services, mental health services, veteran services, public safety, water resources, and road maintenance and construction services. From those listed, you can guess which needs the most improvement. Our roads are awful. They poorest roads in the country and that is not acceptable. As I indicated in a previous question, we need to put pressure on the State to find a solution to better fund the roads, and in the meantime, Oakland County has an obligation to its residents to improve the roads. I will find money to do it and I will negotiate the best deal to make it happen.

It's no surprise that our county's biggest budgetary concern is that it we don't have unlimited money. It would be easy if we did. Instead, we have a certain amount of revenue derived from taxes that comes in, and while it's critical to keep our taxes low, we need to be able to provide and support the high quality of services that our residents deserve and have become accustomed to. Therefore, I believe that we need to focus our efforts not on raising taxes or even nickel and dime expense cutting, but instead, we need to hone in on generating new revenue through economic development efforts. We need to attract new businesses and residents to help spur growth of our economy.
I believe in welcoming all. However, I am very concerned with allowing refugees to settle in Michigan, and Oakland County in particular. I'm concerned because although the Department of Homeland Security, FBI and other law enforcement agencies claim that they are putting refugees through a robust vetting process, that includes background checks, there are refugees that are not capable of being vetted and that's a safety risk I'm not willing to take. In addition, it puts a large financial impact on our schools and other services that we just can't absorb. Therefore, until we can ensure that refugees are being properly vetted and we're safe, I can not support welcoming refugees with open arms.
I believe the best way to help low-income residents is through Economic Self-Sufficiency Programs. They have the potential to help low-income residents increase their earnings, build assets and reduce reliance on housing subsides and other public assistance. Lighthouse of Oakland County would be a fantastic partner to work with for this type of effort.
Oakland County Michigan Works! is a strong program that offers a number of services to Employers such as talent recruitment, workforce assessment, training support, labor market information, hiring incentives as well as other resources for employers. Oakland County Michigan Works! also supports Job Seekers by providing them with career management help, searching for a new job as well as job training and education resources. Despite the strength of this program and resource offerings, the Program needs to do a better job of promoting itself so that Employers and Job Seekers are aware of the services it offers as well as knowing that it exists. Only then will it be able to effectively help.
I believe in fiscally conservative Republican principals and strongly support free market capitalism, free enterprise, a strong national defense program, the right to bear arms, and economic development through the support of businesses. The Republican party's platform is aligned with my core values and principles, and therefore, I will support its nominee over the Democratic nominee.
No
No
City of residence West Bloomfield
Age 33
Family Ben Pulver, Husband Eleanor Pulver, Daughter (9) Sadie Pulver, Daughter (7) Avery Pulver, Son (6) Alice Pulver, Daughter (3)
Education Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) Western Michigan University Certified Case Manager
Vehicles owned 2010 Dodge Caliber 2014 Dodge Caravan
Professional Experience I have had a vast array of health care experience, ranging from direct patient care to hospital education, hospital administration, hospital quality, managed care and case management. I obtained my certification in Case Management in 2015, and continue to act as a patient advocate in all that I do. I have also taken the knowledge and leadership skills I have amassed in my career, and started a small business, HPS Consulting, LLC, in 2015, which focuses on ensuring that health care organizations meet and exceed quality and patient safety expectations.
Political Experience This is my first time running for office.
Race/ethnicity Caucasian
Campaign Website http://votepulver.org
Many of the most pressing problems in Oakland County have to do with health. As a nurse, I know how important these issues are for everyone. The water crisis in Flint, and the discovery of lead in Farmington Public Schools, has made us all rethink the safety of our own water. The opiate epidemic has shed a huge light on the need for addiction recovery services, and increased resources for mental health. Despite increased access to health insurance, many residents in Oakland County still struggle with access to preventative healthcare. As part of the County Commission, I will work to create resources for Oakland County Schools, Health Dept and transportation authority to address these issues.
Yes, I do. Reliable transportation, or lack there of, is one of the main reasons behind a lack of access to healthcare. And when people can't get to the doctor, they can't get the care they need, and end up in an ER, when it's too late, or as a last resort. It is also a main deterrent to steady employment, higher education and community involvement for those without a car, or access to a car. We are one of the only major metropolitan areas that does not have a robust public transportation system, and that needs to change. A well funded and run regional transit system will benefit everyone in our community, and will be an important step towards bringing success to all, not just the few.
Creating a public transportation system that can meet the basic needs of everyone in the community should be the top priority. Everyone should have access to hospitals, clinics, colleges, municipal buildings, court houses, grocery stores, large areas of commerce, office buildings, public parks, restaurants and major community gathering locations, regardless of their ownership or access to a car. Once that can be established, it must be made widely accessible to all, keeping in mind low income community members, ADA guidelines, workable schedules and feasibility of use.
While the use of body cameras has become popular to provide more transparency and accountability from law enforcement officers, it will not ever substitute for adequate training and support for police officers. I am in favor of the use of body cameras to ensure that all protocols and appropriate use of force are met during encounters. When there is video evidence of all encounters between law enforcement and citizens, it serves to protect both parties by showing exactly what transpired. However, more needs to be done to ensure officers receive proper de-escalation training, mental health intervention training, and have enough staff needed to provide safe, effective service to the community.
As a nurse, I do not condone smoking anything or abusing any kind of substance. However, we, as a society, condone the safe and responsible consumption of alcohol, knowing that mature adults can make the decision to enjoy a drink. Marijuana, as a recreational drug, is far less dangerous than alcohol. Its prohibition has some very nefarious roots that had nothing to do whatsoever with public health or safety. I do not understand the celebration of alcohol and the condemnation of marijuana in our culture. The same mature adults who enjoy a drink if they wish should also be allowed to enjoy marijuana if they wish. Again, as a healthcare professional, I do not condone the abuse of any substance.
Many important steps have been taken, such as the "Lock-It-Up Oakland" campaign and "Project Safe Child", however, more can always be done. We need to ensure that guns never make it into the hands of those who should not have them. We need to ensure that everyone in Oakland County purchasing a gun has had the proper background checks completed before they are entrusted with weapons that could end lives in an instant. We need harsh penalties for anyone who allows guns to be placed into the wrong hands. We need to study the epidemic of gun deaths, just like any other epidemic, and dedicate every effort to end this public health crisis. We have a responsibility to make sure we all stay safe.
Quality education is the cornerstone of thriving and successful communities. The county has the obligation to support the school systems, both the traditional public schools and the Oakland County Intermediate School District (ISD), which provides services to our neediest and most at risk children in the county. Oakland County also has a duty to partner with all the school districts to assist in achieving parity among all the schools. The quality of your education should not depend on your zip code. Our children deserve better. A county with as many resources as Oakland County can lead the way in Michigan and be an example of how we can lift every child up regardless of where they come from.
Our crumbling infrastructure is in dire need of replacement. As our roads and bridges age, they become more and more of a public safety threat. We have seen the devastating consequences of bridges collapsing during rush hour traffic, and I'm sure everyone has a story about how they nearly lost an axle or blew out a tire on a gigantic pot hole. The need for these kinds of updates brings a valuable opportunity for good paying jobs with Oakland County. Providing these jobs is a great way in which we can help elevate and bring wealth to everyone in the county. It isn't often that we can address two issues, updating infrastructure and creating good paying jobs, with the same solution.
One of the best things a county can do is assist a city before it gets into a financial tailspin. Just as the old saying goes "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." It's true in medicine and economics. By encouraging economic development and re-development in those struggling cities, those cities will see an increase in their taxable property values, which means more money for the city in return. By encouraging businesses to invest in local cities, not only does it bring in taxable revenue for the city, it increases good paying jobs, which lead to a greater tax payer base. The focus needs to be on fixing the root causes of why the city was in financial distress to begin with.

One of the most important county wide services that needs improvement is community mental health, especially as it comes to substance abuse treatment. We are seeing a mounting crisis and we need to do all we can to keep Oakland County well. We need to not only offer more financial support for mental health and substance abuse services, we need to increase the number of inpatient beds to treat those who are in crisis, and we need to provide more training to other community agencies about appropriate mental health rapid response. With the resources of Oakland County, we need to the example for the rest of the state on how we should, as a community, ensure everyone gets the care they need.
The biggest budgetary concern is funding for infrastructure repair. We have an aging infrastructure system, both seen and unseen. We can all see the crumbling roads, bridges, and sidewalks. But what we don't see every day, that is also extremely concerning, are our aging sewers, water lines, utility plants and electrical grids. More resources need to be devoted to fixing these issues and updating these utilities before they become a crisis. We have seen what happens when a city's basic infrastructure fails, and I refuse to let that happen again. The people of Oakland County deserve our due diligence, and anything less would be a dereliction of duty.

The refugee crisis is beyond heartbreaking. We see families willing to risk everything, many who have lost their loved ones during the dangerous journey, to flee certain death and destruction at home. I will never be able to forget the image of that two-year-old boy's body washed up on the shore, a symbol of the heartlessness of so many. As a mother, I cannot begin to image what kind of horror these families are living through. Oakland County has a moral duty to welcome these tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. There is a lengthy screening processes for refugees which provides protection for our community, and we should feel safe opening our arms to those in need.
Poverty exists because four systemic issues are not addressed: jobs, transportation, child care, higher education. When we provide good paying jobs, income levels rise. When we provide accessible transportation, people can keep good paying jobs and complete higher education. When we provide affordable child care, more parents can work and increase their incomes. When higher education is possible, people can get even higher paying jobs. When we address the root cause of poverty; lack of jobs, transportation, child care and higher education, then we can start to reverse its devastating effects on the people of Oakland County. If we do nothing, we perpetuate the never ending cycle of poverty.
The Oakland County Michigan Works! program offers fantastic resources for businesses, as well as those looking for work and job training. Unfortunately, not everyone can access them. Firstly, we need to create more awareness of the resources that exist at the county for business development, employment opportunities and job training. The Oakland County Michigan Works! program can also partner with the Regional Transit Authority to ensure everyone can access the jobs and resources being offered through this program. Lastly, Oakland County could lead the state by offering Internet access for all, ensuring that these resources that are available online, and millions more, are available to all.
I am in full support of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee for president, and the idea of being on the same ballot as the first woman president fills me with enormous pride. Women are ready for more representation at all levels of government, from Oakland County Commissioner, to President of the United States. Aside from equal representation, which matters deeply, I support Hillary Clinton because she is the most qualified person in history to ever seek the office of the presidency, and her tenacity, kindness and compassion make her the leader our country needs now. I would be beyond honored to ever be given the chance to appear with her at any campaign events. In short, I'm with her.
No, I have never filed for personal bankruptcy.
No, I have never been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor.

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